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Three Myths about Attention, Memory and Perception

Attention, memory and perception are closely intertwined but often have an erroneous view on them because of the lack of knowledge of actual facts and scientific findings concerning attention, memory and perception.

One of the most widely-spread myths is the belief that people can remember all the materials equally. In actuality, this is not true because people cannot remember different materials equally. For instance, researchers (Ayers and Reder, 1998) have found out the fact that people remember better pictures rather than words. As a result, the visual perception contributes to better memorizing compared to words which people may have difficulties to remember.

Another myth is that encoding as an integral part of memory functioning is overwhelming. In other words, some people believe that people can encode and remember everything they perceive from the external world. In actuality, human memory is not a camera and not everything people perceive is recorded in their memory (Ayers and Reder, 1998). Some facts or events may slip from their perception and they will never be encoded and remembered. In addition, different facts and events may have a different impact on the perception that influences encoding of these facts and events in memory.

Finally, some people believe that it is possible to improve memory through encoding a larger amount of information. They believe that the more information people encode and retain in their memory the better for memory. However, in actuality, this belief is not true and people cannot encode effectively large amount of information and retain it in their memory because in the course of time people forget information (Bahrick, 1984).

References:

Ayers, M. S., and Reder, L. M. (1998). “A Theoretical Review of the Misinformation Effect: Predictions from an Activation-Based Memory Model.” Psychonomic Bulletin and Re-view 5:1 – 21.

Bahrick, H. P. (1984). “Semantic Memory Content in Permastore: Fifty Years of Memory for Spanish Learned in School.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 113:1 – 29.